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London business award winner's story of inspiration

Winnie Mak of One Dear World talks to Denise Beedell in the third of a series of articles featuring the winners from the FSB Celebrating Small Business London Area Finals held on 19 March.
One Dear World Ltd is a London–based family startup founded by a mixed race couple Winnie and Rafael.
The idea for the business came about in 2016 when Winnie couldn’t find her ideal black rag doll in high street toy stores for her son Alexander, and she realised there was a gap in the market with rather limited choices for ethnic rag dolls.
After lots of research, designing and obtaining samples she used the IndieGoGo crowd funding platform in March 2017 to raise £18,000 of capital from over 400 backers to turn her ideas into reality.


Winnie Mak of One Dear World


She originally designed 16 different dolls, but to start with, she focused on 4 designs, which were used as the main characters in a story book, set in London.
“The intention at the start was to focus on promoting the book and doll sales. It was great to have the dolls recommended by the Good Toy Guide and the book shortlisted by Made for Mum as the best Pre-schooler book of the Year.
“We decided to run the business from London because the multicultural environment in London has inspired the business and the storybook which showcases the cultural diversity of London. 

“Having my own business means I can work as well as spend time with him and help him learn my mother tongue of Cantonese.
She continued, “If I was doing this again, I would spend more time at the sample stage, to make sure the quality control was right from the start. But it has been a fantastic journey and I’ve learned so much.
In the future, Winnie and Rafael have plans for a new storybook based in Paris, where Rafael comes from, and to extend the range of dolls to incorporate all 16 designs.
Winnie has lived in the UK for seven years and she enjoys the freedom of running her own enterprise.
One Dear World won the Family Business of the Year in the London Area finals.